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#1270097 - 09/17/09 06:07 PM Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 795
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I've played piano for years, but my sight-reading was terrible (almost "non-existent"). So 1 year and 9 months ago I started practicing sight-reading about two hours per day every day ( click here for more info).

You can get a feeling for where I stand by clicking here.

I've made a lot of progress, but I expected much more. True, I've been at it less than two years, but I'll bet that few students have read through as much material as I have, even in 10 years.

So, please comment on the progress I've made.

Did I progress slower because I am 55 years old?

Did I progress slowly because there is a time component involved (e.g. you can't improve twice as fast by practicing twice as much)?

Have I been practicing too much?

Looking forward to your insight...
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading

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#1270155 - 09/17/09 07:42 PM Re: Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress [Re: TromboneAl]
frida11 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/08
Posts: 231
Loc: Pacific Northwest
An important component of sight-reading is learning to sightread at tempo. To do this, most of us have to learn how to leave out notes that aren't necessary. For instance, make sure you hit the downbeats, and the main bass note. Just skip over any unnecessary flourishes, and even offbeats. For sightreading purposes, I think it's better to play closer to tempo and leave out half the notes if necessary while practicing. So you need to look ahead and also process which of the notes are important to hit.

That being said, I think it's awesome that you've disciplined yourself to learn sightreading. It isn't easy!

#1270412 - 09/18/09 09:56 AM Re: Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress [Re: frida11]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12562
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I would say that yes, 2 hours per day is too much for sightreading. Something that helps sightreading is simply learning pieces. You encounter new ideas that later you can recognize as you sight read a new piece. Have you posted about this before? Perhaps elsewhere on the Pianist Corner or ABF? I believe I commented on this approach a while ago, if not with you than someone else.

There is just no substitute for time. Yes, continue to sight read as you go, but keep it to 2-3 pages per day. Then spend the rest of your practice time learning pieces to the point of playing them with ease. There is a benefit to doing this that will help your sight reading, but more importantly, it will be much more fulfilling.

Even the best sight readers would prefer to perform a piece they've had time to work on and really digest.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1270433 - 09/18/09 10:35 AM Re: Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress [Re: Morodiene]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I think you've made great progress! Keep it up! And yes, your progress will be slower because of your age. That's perfectly normal. But I wouldn't worry about it. You're reading just fine if you can read the pieces you posted accurately.
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

#1270483 - 09/18/09 12:20 PM Re: Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress [Re: Minniemay]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12562
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I was right, this was brought up after you completed one year in December:
sightreading topic

"Summary: I improved significantly, but less than I expected to." is what you said back then as well as now. I wonder, did you change anything since December? If not, results were less than what you expected in December. Wouldn't it make sense to conclude that focusing on sightreading alone is not the way to becoming a better pianist?

In your previous post:
"My plan for year two:

1. 30 minutes per day
2. Modern/pop/jazz pieces only (no more hymns or classical)
3. Always use metronome"

Did you make this change? How did this help?

I'm asking for clarification reasons only.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1270623 - 09/18/09 03:50 PM Re: Please Comment on my Sight-Reading Progress [Re: Morodiene]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 795
Loc: Northern, Northern California
Thanks for the comments.

Yes, after December I started doing just 30 minutes per day. However, I'm enjoying the sight-reading more, so I often do two hours or so. It's fun to read through old popular music (just finished a book of songs from around 1900), for example.

However, I am not focusing on sight-reading alone. I'm retired, and am lucky to be able to play as much as I want. So I also do a lot of jazz work, memorizing, drills, etc. I'll often play 5-6 hours per day. Sight-reading is the largest hole in my range of skills, so I'm trying to "fix it."

I have indeed stopped reading hymns, since I believe that sight-reading skill is music-type-specific. However, I also enjoy classical pieces, and am doing some reading of those.

I vowed to always use a metronome, but I don't. I use the metronome about a third of the time.

There are some pieces that I read through repeatedly, but I never get really good at one unless I memorize it. I will do more of this.

Edited by TromboneAl (09/18/09 03:52 PM)
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
My Blog: The Year of Piano Sight-Reading


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